Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship

Program Overview

The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship gives African students and recent graduates the opportunity to access resources, financial support and a network of mentors to bring entrepreneurial ideas to life. This 9-month program helps fellows develop entrepreneurial skills and encourages them to develop the drive to make a social or financial impact.

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Program Structure 

The program’s training is delivered virtually through an online learning platform that gives prospective fellows the opportunity to complete video training and readings at their own pace. In order to demonstrate their commitment to the entrepreneurship training and their progress on building a venture, prospective fellows will submit assignments online, adhering to strict deadlines.

This program will be delivered in the English language. All applicants and participants must be able to participate and complete the program in English. If prospective fellows are unable to speak or write English, they are still encouraged to apply, but must form a team with someone who can fulfil all the requirements of the program in English. Prospective fellows may also work with their local university to come up with a strategy to make sure they are able to access university resources that will help them navigate the challenge related to language ability.

  • Business bootcamp delivered by Queen’s University faculty and industry leaders who bring decades of combined entrepreneurship and C-Suite experience
  • The Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework, a proven step-by-step framework for scalable startups developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Pitch coaching and mastery
  • Certificate awarded for 100% completion of DDQIC’s essential entrepreneurship training modules 

  • Liaise with mentors and speakers leading innovation and entrepreneurship in North America
  • Access a Global Network of Queen’s entrepreneurial alumni
  • Join a cohort of thousands of like-minded students and recent grads from across Africa

  • Fellows are matched to industry leaders and entrepreneurs in the final phase of the program
  • Receive feedback at important startup milestones

  • 15 Fellows will receive a stipend of $500 CAD
  • Opportunities to pitch for funding in Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre seed funding competitions

We believe we do our best work when we tackle problems from diverse perspectives.

We are committed to eliminating barriers to entrepreneurship and making the program inclusive to as many people as possible. We are constantly iterating and improving the courses in response to user needs.

Examples include:

  • In 2020-2021, 60% of the cohort identified as women, and we strongly encourage women to apply to the program as we recognize the additional barriers women face when accessing employment or venturing into entrepreneurship.
  • In 2020-2021, the courses were adapted to be accessible by those with limited internet access.
  • All Queen's University badges earned in the course are free of cost.
  • Each participant receives direct access to a program coach to provide support and mentorship in the completion of the course.

Applications for our JLMCF Program are now open and can be completed using the link attached. Applications will close on November 30, 2021. For inquiries, please email jimleechfellowship@queensu.ca.

Program Timeline 

Phase 1: Explore (January 2021-February 2022)

1000 exceptional candidates receive access to a curated list of online entrepreneurship courses and work through the first 11 steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework workbook. Candidates have several months to demonstrate their commitment to the entrepreneurial process by completing the training and progressing on their ideas' respective milestones.

Phase 2: Ignite (March-April 2022)

30 finalists with an outstanding commitment to the entrepreneurship process, who will have excelled at the milestones set out in phase one will be selected to join this phase. Under this phase, they will continue to go through an additional curated list of additional online entrepreneurship courses and work through the remaining steps of the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework's workbook. At the end of this phase, the participants will pitch their ideas, competing for the fellowship, and the most advanced and promising business ideas will become the finalists who receive the fellowship.

Phase 3: JLMCF on Entrepreneurship (May-August 2022)

15 Fellows will be selected to join DDQIC's summer incubation program. During this phase, Fellows will get the opportunity to work on their ideas, access seed funding, and participate in weekly 3-2-1 pitch presentations about the work they are doing as they transform their ideas into scalable startups. In addition, Fellows will receive a $500 stipend and dedicated coaches and mentors from DDQIC’s Global Network of industry experts and entrepreneurs.

Graduation (August 2022)

Startup entrepreneurs (Fellows) will complete their incubation program at the end of August. After graduation, Fellows will continue to receive post-incubation services, support, and pitch competition opportunities as part of DDQIC’s network. Fellows will be invited to participate as ambassadors and mentors for future Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowships as well.

Meet the Fellows

Victor Sifiso Xaba, Founder of HemPad South Africa

2021 Fellow from University of Cape Town

HemPad South Africa is a social enterprise that is meant to tackle the problem of inequitable access to safe, high-quality, environmentally friendly and affordable sanitary products, especially for the marginalized and low-income class. HemPad was awarded $10,000 in the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.

Titose Chembezi, Co-founder of Altery

2021 Fellow from University of Cape Town

Altery is a digital platform that uses an innovative approach for SMEs and the informal sector to access credit. Altery offers alternative credit scoring to assist financial institutions to extend credit to the unbanked in Africa. Altery was awarded $5000 in the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.

Solomon Bwire, Founder of Kawallet

2021 Fellow from Makerere University

Kawallet is a unique out-of-the-box fintech that enables children in boarding schools to safely store their money, conveniently access more money from parents when in need and easily withdraw money with the aid of key holders. Kawallet received an honourable mention at the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition and received free branding consulting.

Dennis Ssekimpi, Co-founder of Hya Bioplastics

2021 Fellow from Makerere University

Hya Bioplastics is creating biodegradable packaging from re-engineered plant fibres. They have developed an innovative and patent-pending process that re-engineers plant fibres to produce bioplastics. Hya Bioplastics was awarded $10,000 in the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.

Fellows' Success Stories

Farhia Jama

Featured on the WTO “Let’s Talk Trade” podcast discussing her experience running her business during the pandemic: 

Success Story

Enoch Muwangezi

Interviewed on SEE TV, a national Ugandan Television channel, on his startup Ugabrush. 

Success Story